Not so much looking down as across..

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Don't the French speak French well?

I love language. I love language that is spoken or written well. But above all I love language that is spoken well.

I love the way the French speak French. They speak it well with pride and attention.

You would think the English would be the best at speaking English - but that is not always the case. I love regional accents - but only when the diction is clear. I find Coronation St and Eastenders depressing. I hate hearing the English being mangled and the grammar being strangled.

I am trying to become more mellow in my old age. When I first heard the Australian accent courtesy of 'Neighbours' many years ago I could not understand it. When I got to understand it, I decided I did not like it. Why would people murder an innocent language and strangle the blameless vowels?

I love the Welsh and Scots accents - I think they speak English much better than many English people. I love Dublin humour but find the Dublin accent lazy. Bob Geldof may have made the Dublin accent sexy, but clearly difinitions of 'sexy' differ.

I adore the Irish language, Gaelic. I had the happy experience of spending four summers in the ealry sxities living in Connemara with a family whose first language was Irish - indeed in the case of some members of the household, their only language. Irish spoken well is a thing of beauty. People who love Irish mistakenly think that people should be encouraged to speak bad Irish - 'better bad Irish than no Irish' seems to be motto. Insanity. It is like suggesting that Mozart and Beethoven played badly is better than silence.

In the same vein, I hate it when Irish politicians inisist on speaking a few words in terrible Irish - the 'cupla focail'. It is like leering at a girl and saying you are at least paying her the compiment of showing her attention. Better left alone to die a linguistic spinster than this suffer this cruel attack.

Languages are intersting for their different conepts. To take the simplest concept - 'I am hungry' is translated in French and Spanish - 'j'ai faim' and' tengo hambre' - I have hunger. In Irish it is 'ta ocras orm' - there is hunger on me. My point being if something as simple as hunger is expressed in such different ways - how many and varied are the more subtle ways of looking at issues pracitcal and philosophical? That is one of the fasinating things about learing languages - finding out about the different approaches to life and embracing as we learn to speak a new language.

There is an Irish 'me' and an French 'me' and a Spanish 'me. Speaking fluently in different languages allows different elements of ourselves to escape the prison of the language we were born into.

Traveling broadens the mind, they say, but nothing compared to speaking another language with confidence and without self consciousness.

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